By Blair Paterson
Wilkie was a worm. Worms aren’t given much thought as they squirm hither and dither in the dirt underfoot but Wilkie wasn’t bothered. He knew his place in the world, knew he had magical powers. In fact you might even say Wilkie had the magic of life, which came from the oddest source: his poo.
Wilkie was a compost worm. His appetite was far more veracious than your average earthworm. Worms eat just about anything. A compost worm’s diet, however, consists mainly of fruit and vegetable scraps and anything once living; except for meat and dairy products which can make Wilkie sick and his poo smelly. Worms are hermaphrodites – they are both male and female – but more about that later.
Much can be learnt from Wilkie’s story – about the wonder of compost worms, the importance of their magnificent poo, and how humans can make best use of both.
On a moist humid day baby Wilkie hatched from his cocoon into a bed of black loamy soil jam-packed with yummy worm-food. Our little worm set right about the business of eating as much delicious tucker as he could stuff into his toothless mouth, and with a full belly began the very job for which he was put on Planet Earth. Wilkie did his first poo.
Not many poos later while Wilkie wriggled about in his happy home something came to pass which dramatically changed his fate.
Wilkie felt a strange rumble from afar. He was curling around his boneless body when a louder rumble sent vibrations through the earth. He uncurled and made for the safe depths below. While he burrowed another rumble shook the ground around him like a ferocious earthquake. The last thing he remembered before blacking-out was the slither of light he sensed shining over his eyeless head. A shovel crashed through the earth. It severed the lower part of his body. Clean off.
Wilkie got scooped up in a clod of dirt, stuffed into a box, thrown onto the back of a truck and taken away. After a long bumpy journey his box was forklifted and stacked on a shelf in a big dusty warehouse, among millions of other boxed worms.
Humans had intervened in Wilkie’s world. What might they have in stall next?